The Victorious Divine Warrior
1 Who is this who comes from Edom,1
dressed in bright red, coming from Bozrah?2
Who3 is this one wearing royal attire,4
who marches confidently5 because of his great strength?
“It is I, the one who announces vindication,
and who is able to deliver!6
2 Why are your clothes red?
Why do you look like someone who has stomped on grapes in a vat?7
3I have stomped grapes in the winepress all by myself;
no one from the nations joined me.
I stomped on them8 in my anger;
I trampled them down in my rage.
Their juice splashed on my garments,
and stained9 all my clothes.
4 For I looked forward to the day of vengeance,
and then payback time arrived.10
5 I looked, but there was no one to help;
I was shocked because there was no one offering support.11
So my right arm accomplished deliverance;
my raging anger drove me on.12
6 I trampled nations in my anger,
I made them drunk13 in my rage,
I splashed their blood on the ground.”14
A Prayer for Divine Intervention
7 I will tell of the faithful acts of the Lord,
of the Lord’s praiseworthy deeds.
I will tell about all15 the Lord did for us,
the many good things he did for the family of Israel,16
because of17 his compassion and great faithfulness.
8 He said, “Certainly they will be my people,
children who are not disloyal.”18
He became their deliverer.
9 Through all that they suffered, he suffered too.19
The messenger sent from his very presence20 delivered them.
In his love and mercy he protected21 them;
he lifted them up and carried them throughout ancient times.22
10 But they rebelled and offended23 his holy Spirit,24
so he turned into an enemy
and fought against them.
11 His people remembered the ancient times.25
Where is the one who brought them up out of the sea,
along with the shepherd of26 his flock?
Where is the one who placed his holy Spirit among them,27
12 the one who made his majestic power available to Moses,28
who divided the water before them,
gaining for himself a lasting reputation,29
13 who led them through the deep water?
Like a horse running on flat land30 they did not stumble.
14 Like an animal that goes down into a valley to graze,31
so the Spirit of the Lord granted them rest.
In this way32 you guided your people,
gaining for yourself an honored reputation.33
15 Look down from heaven and take notice,
from your holy, majestic palace!
Where are your zeal34 and power?
Do not hold back your tender compassion!35
16 For you are our father,
though Abraham does not know us
and Israel does not recognize us.
You, Lord, are our father;
you have been called our protector from ancient times.36
17 Why, Lord, do you make us stray37 from your ways,38
and make our minds stubborn so that we do not obey you?39
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your inheritance!
18 For a short time your special40 nation possessed a land,41
but then our adversaries knocked down42 your holy sanctuary.
19 We existed from ancient times,43
but you did not rule over them,
they were not your subjects.44
163:1sn Edom is here an archetype for the Lord’s enemies. See 34:5. 263:1tn Heb “[in] bright red garments, from Bozrah.” 363:1tn The interrogative particle is understood by ellipsis; note the first line of the verse. 463:1tn Heb “honored in his clothing”; KJV, ASV “glorious in his apparel.” 563:1tc The Hebrew text has צָעָה (tsaah), which means “stoop, bend” (51:14). The translation assumes an emendation to צָעַד (tsa’ad, “march”; see BDB 858 s.v. צָעָה). 663:1tn Heb “I, [the one] speaking in vindication [or “righteousness”], great to deliver.” 763:2tn Heb “and your garments like one who treads in a vat?” 863:3sn Nations, headed by Edom, are the object of the Lord’s anger (see v. 6). He compares military slaughter to stomping on grapes in a vat. 963:3tn Heb “and I stained.” For discussion of the difficult verb form, see HALOT 170 s.v. II גאל. Perhaps the form is mixed, combining the first person forms of the imperfect (note the alef prefix) and perfect (note the תי- ending). 1063:4tn Heb “for the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my revenge came.” The term גְּאוּלַי (gÿulai) is sometimes translated here “my redemption,” for the verbal root גאל often means “deliver, buy back.” A גֹּאֵל (go’el, “kinsman-redeemer”) was responsible for protecting the extended family’s interests, often by redeeming property that had been sold outside the family. However, the responsibilities of a גֹּאֵל extended beyond financial concerns. He was also responsible for avenging the shed blood of a family member (see Num 35:19-27; Deut 19:6-12). In Isa 63:4, where vengeance is a prominent theme (note the previous line), it is probably this function of the family protector that is in view. The Lord pictures himself as a blood avenger who waits for the day of vengeance to arrive and then springs into action. 1163:5sn See Isa 59:16 for similar language. 1263:5tn Heb “and my anger, it supported me”; NIV “my own wrath sustained me.” 1363:6sn See Isa 49:26 and 51:23 for similar imagery. 1463:6tn Heb “and I brought down to the ground their juice.” “Juice” refers to their blood (see v. 3). 1563:7tn Heb “according to all which.” 1663:7tn Heb “greatness of goodness to the house of Israel which he did for them.” 1763:7tn Heb “according to.” 1863:8tn Heb “children [who] do not act deceitfully.” Here the verb refers to covenantal loyalty. 1963:9tn Heb “in all their distress, there was distress to him” (reading לוֹ [lo] with the margin/Qere). 2063:9tn Heb “the messenger [or “angel”] of his face”; NIV “the angel of his presence.”sn This may refer to the “angel of God” mentioned in Exod 14:19, who in turn may be identical to the divine “presence” (literally, “face”) referred to in Exod 33:14-15 and Deut 4:37. Here in Isa 63 this messenger may be equated with God’s “holy Spirit” (see vv. 10-11) and “the Spirit of the Lord” (v. 14). See also Ps 139:7, where God’s “Spirit” seems to be equated with his “presence” (literally, “face”) in the synonymous parallelistic structure. 2163:9tn Or “redeemed” (KJV, NAB, NIV), or “delivered.” 2263:9tn Heb “all the days of antiquity”; KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV “days of old.” 2363:10tn Or “grieved, hurt the feelings of.” 2463:10sn The phrase “holy Spirit” occurs in the OT only here (in v. 11 as well) and in Ps 51:11 (51:13 HT), where it is associated with the divine presence. 2563:11tn Heb “and he remembered the days of antiquity, Moses, his people.” The syntax of the statement is unclear. The translation assumes that “his people” is the subject of the verb “remembered.” If original, “Moses” is in apposition to “the days of antiquity,” more precisely identifying the time period referred to. However, the syntactical awkwardness suggests that “Moses” may have been an early marginal note (perhaps identifying “the shepherd of his flock” two lines later) that has worked its way into the text. 2663:11tn The Hebrew text has a plural form, which if retained and taken as a numerical plural, would probably refer to Moses, Aaron, and the Israelite tribal leaders at the time of the Exodus. Most prefer to emend the form to the singular (רָעָה, raah) and understand this as a reference just to Moses. 2763:11sn See the note at v. 10. 2863:12tn Heb “who caused to go at the right hand of Moses the arm of his splendor.” 2963:12tn Heb “making for himself a lasting name.” 3063:13tn Heb “in the desert [or “steppe”].” 3163:14tn The words “to graze” are supplied in the translation for clarification. 3263:14tn Or “so” (KJV, ASV), or “thus” (NAB, NRSV). 3363:14tn Heb “making for yourself a majestic name.” 3463:15tn This probably refers to his zeal for his people, which motivates him to angrily strike out against their enemies. 3563:15tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “the agitation of your intestines and your compassion to me they are held back.” The phrase “agitation of your intestines” is metonymic, referring to the way in which one’s nervous system reacts when one feels pity and compassion toward another. אֵלַי (’elay, “to me”) is awkward in this context, where the speaker represents the nation and, following the introduction (see v. 7), utilizes first person plural forms. The translation assumes an emendation to the negative particle אַל (’al). This also necessitates emending the following verb form (which is a plural perfect) to a singular jussive (תִתְאַפָּק, tit’appaq). The Hitpael of אָפַק (’afaq) also occurs in 42:14. 3663:16tn Heb “our protector [or “redeemer”] from antiquity [is] your name.” 3763:17tn Some suggest a tolerative use of the Hiphil here, “[why do] you allow us to stray?” (cf. NLT). Though the Hiphil of תָעָה (taah) appears to be tolerative in Jer 50:6, elsewhere it is preferable or necessary to take it as causative. See Isa 3:12; 9:15; and 30:28, as well as Gen 20:13; 2 Kgs 21:9; Job 12:24-25; Prov 12:26; Jer 23:13, 32; Hos 4:12; Amos 2:4; Mic 3:5. 3863:17tn This probably refers to God’s commands. 3963:17tn Heb “[Why do] you harden our heart[s] so as not to fear you.” The interrogative particle is understood by ellipsis (note the preceding line).sn How direct this hardening is, one cannot be sure. The speaker may envision direct involvement on the Lord’s part. The Lord has brought the exile as judgment for the nation’s sin and now he continues to keep them at arm’s length by blinding them spiritually. The second half of 64:7 might support this, though the precise reading of the final verb is uncertain. On the other hand, the idiom of lament is sometimes ironic and hyperbolically deterministic. For example, Naomi lamented that Shaddai was directly opposing her and bringing her calamity (Ruth 1:20-21), while the author of Ps 88 directly attributes his horrible suffering and loneliness to God (see especially vv. 6-8, 16-18). Both individuals make little, if any, room for intermediate causes or the principle of sin and death which ravages the human race. In the same way, the speaker in Isa 63:17 (who evidences great spiritual sensitivity and is anything but “hardened”) may be referring to the hardships of exile, which discouraged and even embittered the people, causing many of them to retreat from their Yahwistic faith. In this case, the “hardening” in view is more indirect and can be lifted by the Lord’s intervention. Whether the hardening here is indirect or direct, it is important to recognize that the speaker sees it as one of the effects of rebellion against the Lord (note especially 64:5-6). 4063:18tn Or “holy” (ASV, NASB, NRSV, TEV, NLT). 4163:18tn Heb “for a short time they had a possession, the people of your holiness.” 4263:18tn Heb “your adversaries trampled on.” 4363:19tn Heb “we were from antiquity” (see v. 16). The collocation עוֹלָם + מִן + הָיָה (hayah + min + ’olam) occurs only here. 4463:19tn Heb “you did not rule them, your name was not called over them.” The expression “the name is called over” indicates ownership; see the note at 4:1. As these two lines stand they are very difficult to interpret. They appear to be stating that the adversaries just mentioned in v. 18 have not been subject to the Lord’s rule in the past, perhaps explaining why they could commit the atrocity described in v. 18b.